COVID19: Moderna jab safe for teenagers

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Moderna’s COVID-19 jab could become the second vaccine given the green light for children over the age of 12, as the European Medicine Agency on Friday recommended its use for 12- to 17-year-olds.

Moderna’s vaccine, branded Spikevax, has been approved by the EMA for children aged 12 to 17, with the agency noting it produced a comparable antibody response to that seen in 18- to 25-year-olds.

Pfizer’s Comirnaty was approved for younger teens in May, and those aged 16 to 17 can get a jab in Cyprus.

Vaccinating children has been at the centre of discussions between scientists.

The majority argue they consider it a vital tool in reaching herd immunity against the novel coronavirus and in the light of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most children with COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms or none.

Yet children remain at risk of becoming seriously ill and can spread the virus to those more vulnerable such as their parents.

Currently, a 16-year-old in Cyprus is being treated in an Acute Care facility at the Makarios Hospital for Children in Nicosia.

Moderna in May said its vaccine was found to be safe and effective in teenagers.

EMA said the two-dose vaccine is given four weeks apart, and its human medicines committee’s recommendation was based on a study of 3,732 participants.

It said that side effects in teenagers were similar to those seen in older people.

But due to the smaller study size, the trial could not detect new uncommon side effects or estimate the risk of known ones such as myocarditis and pericarditis.

“The overall safety profile of Spikevax determined in adults was confirmed in the adolescent study; the CHMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use) therefore considered that the benefits of Spikevax in children aged 12 to 17 outweigh the risks,” EMA said.

Formal approval from the European Commission would be needed to start rolling out the vaccine for teenagers.